Ally of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin stands trial in $40 million graft case: Xinhua

China's President Xi Jinping (right) walks with retired leaders Jiang Zemin (centre) and Hu Jintao (left) as they arrive at the National Day Reception to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, at the Great Hall of th
China's President Xi Jinping (right) walks with retired leaders Jiang Zemin (centre) and Hu Jintao (left) as they arrive at the National Day Reception to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic of China, at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing on Sept 30, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese businessman who is believed to be an ally of former President Jiang Zemin stood trial Friday in a 190 million yuan (S$40.23 million) corruption case, state media said.

Wang Zongnan, a former official who later became head of a huge Shanghai-based food group, was put under investigation in August, reports previously said.

The move suggests that the anti-corruption drive by Chinese president Xi Jinping is targeting the Shanghai power base of his predecessor - a city that has long been considered Jiang's turf.

"Wang Zongnan was accused of embezzling between 2000 and 2006 when he was chairman of Shanghai Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co," a report by state news agency Xinhua said Friday.

"He was also charged with accepting 2.69 million yuan of bribes," the report added, citing a statement from the Shanghai municipal No. 2 intermediate people's court.

Wang's parents bought two villas in Shanghai for 2.7 million yuan below the market price from a "subsidiary of a company their son did a favour for", the report said.

Wang was once an aide to former Shanghai Communist party chief Chen Liangyu, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2008 for bribery and abuse of power.

China's financial capital has long been seen as Jiang's domain. He was once the city's party chief and his faction in the ruling party is known as the "Shanghai Gang".

Communist Party authorities have waged a much-publicised anti-graft campaign since Xi ascended to the organisation's leadership two years ago.

But critics say no systemic reforms have been introduced to increase transparency to help battle endemic corruption.